Shedding Books

When a person’s hair begins to fall out, teeth loosen, nail beds become unmoored, it is not intentional. Clearing out a closet. That’s intentional. Why, then, does it feel like my sudden compulsion to shed books is more like a virus than a decision? After years of collecting them, I can’t get rid of them fast enough. They are in piles on the floor, boxes and bags, tentatively labelled Friends of the Library, West Florida Literary Federation, University of West Florida English Department.

No more writing craft books. If I can’t write my way out of a paper bag, then I’ll cut windows in the bag and get cozy. But if I can, then it will be on my own Holy Grail treasure map written on the paper bag, unglued, cut up, painted yellow and turned into a brick road leading to created worlds.

These walls of books have closed in, gotten pushy, put a pillow over my face. It took years for this fever to break. The stacks are outside my door now, and I’ve washed down the shelves, the walls, and steam-cleaned my brain.

That’s better. Now  I can breathe.

9 thoughts on “Shedding Books

  1. This is so funny, because I’ve recently come to the same place. For years, I’ve cared for and nurtured my books, and most importantly, hung onto them. But lately I’ve decided that books should be in circulation, with people reading them, not sitting on a bookshelf unused somewhere (like my den). So I regularly take boxes of books to Powell’s, whose headquarters is here in town. Just this week, I told my husband we needed to clear out some of the books in the den to make room to use it for other activities. I think part of the change in attitude is that I now know that if I miss a book, odds are good I can find it online instantly. The nature of how we retrieve knowledge is changing.


  2. Wow, I admire this decisive action. I am at least one step away from that. I have this desire to organize my books and put them in alpha by author order! A sheer fantasy in my current situation, especially because I have too many. So . . . I know it’s a good feeling to get rid of stuff, but aren’t you going to keep X many favorites in a personal private Patheon?


    1. “Where will it all lead?” That, dear Verna, is a big unknown. We can see the books led to the bears. Hmmmn. Wonder what’s next? (Not Buck, though, he’s a keeper.)


  3. I’ve got a few writing-craft books left, but several were purged when I taught a writing workshop and “loaned” them to my students. I didn’t expect to see them again, and that was all for the good. Yes, they should go on to the newest budding authors. Though William Zissner is one (Stephen King’s memoir, also) that I will gratefully hold onto.


    1. Oh, Deanna, I still have favorites that I wouldn’t part with for the world (your two are part of the cozy group); also 2 of Natalie Goldberg’s (Old Friends a Writing Down the Bones), Sven Birkerts’ The Art of Time in Memoir, Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream (the process of writing fiction), and Brian Kiteley’s The 3 a.m. Epiphany.


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